Steiner responds to Mazepin F1 pay driver criticism with Lauda comparison

Haas Formula 1 boss Gunther Steiner has responded to criticism of the team taking the well-funded Nikita Mazepin by pointing out three-time champion Niki Lauda paid to get into F1

Steiner responds to Mazepin F1 pay driver criticism with Lauda comparison

Mazepin was announced as a Haas driver for 2021 on Tuesday, and while there has been no confirmation of the commercial arrangements, the logos of his father's Uralkali concern are expected to be seen on the car.

With several other sons of wealthy fathers landing seats on the grid, inevitably there has been some scepticism about the choice on social media.

However Steiner insisted it isn't unusual for talented drivers to benefit from financial support, and said Mazepin has already proven his skills in Formula 2, where he lies third in the 2020 championship.

"There's a lot of drivers who get into F1 thanks to financial backing," said Steiner, who revealed talks with Mazepin began last year.

"There are very good drivers in F1 who in the beginning brought a sponsor.

"The first one to call is Checo [Sergio Perez]. Checo came to F1 and it was, 'He's a pay driver.' Look at Checo now, he finished on the podium, he's doing a good job.

"George Russell for me is one of the best drivers, but without the help of Mercedes he wouldn't be anywhere.

"There's a lot of them there. Lance Stroll, he was on the podium. If they are good in F2, and they have a sponsor, that's a perfect solution.

"When I spoke with Niki a long time ago he said, 'I made it into F1 thanks to a bank which sponsored me, so I could go and buy a drive'.

"I think it was BRM at the time. And he was three-times world champion."

Steiner stressed Mazepin's strong F2 form has qualified him for the drive, adding: "I followed him the whole season, what he was doing.

"For sure he had a difficult start, and without that difficult start, he would be fighting for the championship.

"So that is what I see, I can't see any more than that. Results always talk."

When challenged about following fellow wealthy sons Lance Stroll and Nicholas Latifi into F1, Mazepin himself pinpointed their abilities.

"What about them?" he said.

"They're very good professional racing drivers who have both achieved amazing results in their single seater careers."

shares
comments
Grosjean targeting F1 return for Abu Dhabi GP

Previous article

Grosjean targeting F1 return for Abu Dhabi GP

Next article

Grosjean recalls Bahrain F1 fire escape: "I saw death coming"

Grosjean recalls Bahrain F1 fire escape: "I saw death coming"
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1
Drivers Nikita Mazepin
Author Adam Cooper
The toe-in-water origins of Lotus’s groundbreaking F1 journey Plus

The toe-in-water origins of Lotus’s groundbreaking F1 journey

In the first part of our history of Lotus, DAMIEN SMITH recalls how Formula 1 wasn’t an immediate priority for team founder Colin Chapman – but once he got a taste for it he just couldn’t stop…

How Hamilton’s qualifying record compares to Senna and Schumacher Plus

How Hamilton’s qualifying record compares to Senna and Schumacher

Lewis Hamilton has just become the first driver to record 100 world championship Formula 1 pole positions. Time to revisit a debate we discussed when he reached 150 front row starts in 2020.

Formula 1
May 8, 2021
Why sustainability is being mandated by F1 Plus

Why sustainability is being mandated by F1

Continuing to be socially acceptable as public views shift globally is vitally important to the future of motor racing, says PAT SYMONDS - especially in Formula 1, the championship that represents the technological peak

Formula 1
May 8, 2021
The Barcelona practice times that prove Red Bull's title credentials, and heap pressure on Verstappen Plus

The Barcelona practice times that prove Red Bull's title credentials, and heap pressure on Verstappen

Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes led the way in Friday practice for the 2021 Spanish Grand Prix, but there was one big encouraging sign for Red Bull. The trouble is, it looks like making good on that gain will require its superstar driver to avoid repeating a mistake made today that left him well down the FP2 order

Formula 1
May 7, 2021
Why McLaren doesn’t doubt Ricciardo can escape his ‘dark’ place Plus

Why McLaren doesn’t doubt Ricciardo can escape his ‘dark’ place

Three points finishes from as many starts represents a decent opening innings on paper, but Daniel Ricciardo has endured a tough start to his McLaren career - only magnified his team-mate's excellent form. Yet both he and the team have good reason to expect a turnaround soon

Formula 1
May 6, 2021
What needs to “change” for Red Bull is ending Verstappen’s errors Plus

What needs to “change” for Red Bull is ending Verstappen’s errors

OPINION: Going up against the dominant force of Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton was always going to demand the best from Red Bull and Max Verstappen. But after making a couple more errors during the Portuguese Grand Prix, the Dutch driver showed there's a small gap he still needs to close in the 2021 Formula 1 title fight

Formula 1
May 5, 2021
The "subtle" Red Bull upgrades that kept it in the Portugal F1 mix Plus

The "subtle" Red Bull upgrades that kept it in the Portugal F1 mix

Red Bull's Portuguese Grand Prix fortunes were decidedly second best to Mercedes', but the result skews the potential that the team had at Portimao. With a new set of updates, the team looks good going forward into the rest of 2021's spicy F1 competition

Formula 1
May 3, 2021
Portuguese Grand Prix Driver Ratings Plus

Portuguese Grand Prix Driver Ratings

The 2021 Portuguese GP will for several drivers go down as a weekend of missed opportunities amid imperfect track conditions that caused struggles with tyre warmup. But the performances of a select few stood out from the crowd

Formula 1
May 3, 2021